Logo copyright is the subject of many enquiries we receive. In particular how copyright protects logos and whether logos are suitable for registration with the UK Copyright Service. This page deals with the common questions surrounding this subject.
Registration and protection
- Can I register my company logo or brand images with the UK Copyright Service?
Yes. In fact, it is common for companies to register their logos with us.
Registrations can be made for the company logo, and also for any images or artwork associated with the brand or promotional materials. This is often carried out at company start up or prior to the launch of a new product or advertising campaign.
Registration can be carried out using our standard application forms.
- Does copyright protect the company name?
Copyright does not protect names in their own right, but trading names will still be automatically be subject to ‘passing off’ rules. Passing off legislation is designed to prevent a person or organisation from poaching trade from an established company by presenting itself in a way that makes the customer believe that are dealing with the more established company. For more details on this, please see our copyright and names fact sheet.
- Can a copyright registration of a logo be used in a passing off case?
Yes, it may help. Certainly the fact that a logo was registered is evidence of the date and content of the logo. At the very least it can help to demonstrate who was using the name first and who was copying.
Copyright or trademark?
- Is a logo subject to copyright?
Yes. A logo that includes artistic or design elements, (i.e. not just the name on its own), is legally regarded as being a work of artistic creation and therefore will be protected under copyright law.
Copyright protects the logo as an artistic work. As copyright is an automatic international right, it therefore follows that, (other than activities specified under fair dealing rules), unauthorised copying of that logo would be an infringement.
- Could a trademark also apply?
This is possible. As the name suggests, a trademark can be applied to the logo as it is an identifying mark of the brand identity. Registered trademarks are applied for within a particular country or region and typically within a trading sector. A trademark will only cover the mark within that region or trading sector.
If you are interested in a trademark, you should contact a trademark attorney or your national patent or trademark office for further details.
In practice, businesses will tend to only register trademarks in countries where they have a strong trading relationship and fall back on copyright protection in the remaining countries. A registration of the logo with ourselves provides a low cost way to secure independent evidence of your prior claim in case of incidents in countries where you do not have a trademark.
The differences between trademarks, copyright and other rights are discussed in more detail on our intellectual property rights page.
The copyright symbol ©
Often people refer to the copyright symbol ‘©’ as the copyright logo. For information on the © symbol, please see our copyright symbols page.